Khartoum, Dec 15: Sudan Saturday transported 1,345 South Sudanese nationals residing in Khartoum back to their homeland as part of a voluntary return programme supervised by Sudanese and international organisations.
“Today, we transported 1,345 people (Southern Sudanese), including 145 children, in coordination with the South Sudan embassy to Sudan and Khartoum State’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), with a fund by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the South Sudanese government,” Xinhua quoted Mohamed Mustafa Al-Sinari, Khartoum state’s HAC commissioner, as saying.
He said the Khartoum state accommodated 40,000 South Sudanese nationals who stay in 38 refugee camps.
Al-Sinari urged the international community to help transport the remaining South Sudanese, calling for providing the “necessary fund to transport the South Sudanese who are still at the accommodation camps and centers and facing difficult conditions due to beginning of winter”.
Many of the South Sudanese nationals transported Saturday praised the Sudanese authorities for the good treatment they received and expressed mixed feelings over leaving the place where they had been living for years.
“We feel happy for moving to our state, but at the same time we will never forget Sudan because it is also our homeland and all our things are still here. We have our homes, belongings and material rights, such as pensions,” William Deng, one of the returning South Sudanese, said.
Before the independence of South Sudan in July 2011, there were about 350,000 South Sudanese in Sudan. Tens of thousands of them have been transported to South Sudan under the help of the Khartoum government and the IOM, while some others returned through unorganised trips.
Sudan and South Sudan have tried to reach an agreement which leads to adjusting the conditions of the two countries’ citizens within what is known as the four freedoms’ agreement, but the deal has not been implemented yet, as it is associated with other issues, including the border demarcation, opening of the border passages and regulation of the movement of the citizens and commodities along the joint border.